The strangest thing about this year's Fourth of July weekend is that there isn't one.
This year, Independence Day falls on a Wednesday -- not exactly an ideal party day for most people. It might be hard to plan a traditional, three-day weekend getaway specifically for the Fourth. But the celebrations around Western New York will hardly be affected. In fact, they'll only be augmented.
Since there isn't an actual Fourth of July weekend, the holiday will be stretched across the next week, giving ample opportunity to commemorate our nation's birthday. This weekend, you can get an early start with live music, some relaxing time in a park and a whole lot of fireworks. Then break out your red, white and blue and do it again on Wednesday. And then do it once again next weekend. This is the kind of celebrating that our forefathers had in mind.
Friday in the Square, Jackson Square, alleyways off Jackson and Center streets. Music from Penny Whiskey, 7 to 9 p.m.
>Saturday [June 30]
Second annual LibertyFest at Collins Town Park. Noon to 10 p.m. Chinese auction, softball game, magic show, horseshoe tournament, street dance, bounce houses, Miss Liberty Pageant, face painting and concessions. Former Buffalo Sabre Rob Ray will umpire a softball game and sign autographs from 2 to 3 p.m. Fireworks at 9:45 p.m., followed by a bonfire at 10 p.m.
Clarence Day in the Park, Clarence Town Park (10405 Main St.). Begins at 2 p.m. and runs until fireworks at dusk. Activities include street hockey tournament, "I Got It" booth, extreme racing, bounce houses, fire safety and state police demonstrations, laser tag, clowns, ponies, puppets and magicians.
>Monday [July 2]
Seneca Allegany Casino and Hotel parking lot (Interstate 86, Exit 20). Fireworks at dusk. Rain date: July 7.
>Tuesday [July 3]
Lake Erie Beach Park (9568 Lake Shore Road). Fireworks at dusk. Rain date: Wednesday.
The 18th annual KeyBank Independence Eve Celebration with the Buffalo Bisons, Coca-Cola Field (275 Washington St.). The Bisons play the Durham Bulls at 6:05 p.m., followed with a concert by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus and fireworks. Tickets are $23 (www.bisons.com).
Cuba Lake. Fireworks between 9 and 10 p.m.
Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel (310 Fourth St.). Fireworks at 9:40 p.m. Rain date: Next Friday.
>Wednesday [July 4]
Baird Point, University at Buffalo North Campus. Independence Day Celebration featuring performances by Billy McEwen (7-8:45 p.m.) and the Erie County Wind Ensemble (8:45-10 p.m.), followed by fireworks at dusk. Rain date for Erie County Wind Ensemble's performance is next Friday; rain date for McEwen's performance is July 18. Rain site is Mill Middle School (505 Mill St.).
Weekly concert series at Centennial Park, near Center and High streets, featuring Rustic Ramblers, 7 p.m. In case of rain, concert will be moved to the Angola Theater (72 N. Main St.).
The 34th annual Go Art! Picnic in the Park, Centennial Park, Richmond Avenue off Ellicott Avenue and State Street. Festivities from noon to 5 p.m. Music from the Batavia Concert Band, the Genesee Chorale, the Henrie Brothers, Cut-Off and Kelly's Old-Timers. Second stage featuring theater performances by the Batavia Players, Engarde to Encore and dancing from the McMahon School of Irish Dance. Also, horse-drawn wagon rides, petting zoo, fencing demonstrations, jugglers, bounce houses and an Explore Art! Tent, where families can make greeting cards for men and women serving in the military, and an arts and crafts show and sale.
Erie Canal Harbor Central Wharf (95 Perry St.). 6 to 11 p.m. Live music, concessions, art, children's activities. Fireworks at approximately 10:15 p.m. over the Buffalo River.
Chautauqua Institution. Events from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. including a farmers' market from 7 to 11 a.m., Catholic mass at 8:45 a.m., lecture from presidential debate moderator Jim Lehrer at 10:45 a.m., bell ringing ceremony at Miller Bell Tower at 2 p.m. and performance of "The Philadelphia Story" at the Bratton Theater at 4 p.m. Plus music from Thursday Morning Brass, Chautauqua Community Band and George W. Wolf throughout the day, an Amphitheater Ball at 8 p.m. and a Fourth of July bell tower concert at 10 p.m., which will coincide with lighting of flares and a fireworks display over Chautauqua Lake.
Elma, Marilla and Wales Boys & Girls Club (2080 Girdle Road). Fireworks at dusk. Parking across the street at the Iroquois High School parking lot. Rain date: Thursday.
Red, White & Blue Day at Martin's Fantasy Island (2400 Grand Island Blvd.). Special all-day admission of $17.76. Visitors are encouraged to wear red, white and blue. Kids and families can make patriotic crafts and cards for veterans in the VA Hospital. Fireworks at dusk.
Lewiston Plateau, near Artpark (450 S. Fourth St.). Fireworks at dusk. Can be seen from Academy Park on Center Street. Rain date: Thursday.
Outwater Park (off Glenwood Avenue and Trowbridge Street). Fireworks at dusk.
Independence Day Celebration at the Genesee County Village and Museum (1410 Flint Hill Road). 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Naturalization ceremony, sack races, parade, pie-eating contest and more. A Civil War-era replica balloon will be on display, surrounded by a Civil War encampment; passengers can fly in the balloon in 15-minute intervals for $15 ($10 for members).
*Niagara Falls, Ont.
Coca-Cola Concert Series at Queen Victoria Park. Concert by the Athertones at 8 p.m. at the Illumination Tower Stage across from the Falls, followed by fireworks at 10 p.m.
Parade at 8 p.m. Starts at Orchard Park High School (4040 Baker Road), ends at Orchard Park Middle School (60 S. Lincoln Ave.). Fireworks at dusk.
Community Park (700 N. 950 West). Softball game at 3 p.m., food and live music starting at 5 p.m., fireworks at dusk.
>Next Friday [July 6]
Friday in the Square, Jackson Square, alleyways off Jackson and Center streets. Music from Bonnie Collide, 7 to 9 p.m.
>Next Saturday [July 7]
Seventh annual Ramble Music and Art Fest, Jackson Square along Center Street. Live music from local bands on two stages, concessions, arts and crafts vendors.
The 4th at Riverside, Riverside Park, today through Wednesday. Rides, dog demos, dunk tanks and free concerts every day. Today: Miss Friendship Festival contest at 5 p.m., music by River Rocks from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday: Fishing contest from 8 a.m. to noon, softball game from 1 to 3 p.m., petting farm from 2 to 8 p.m. and music by Hit-N-Run from 6 to 11 p.m. Sunday: Beautiful baby contest from 1 to 3 p.m., car show from noon to 5 p.m., petting farm from 2 to 8 p.m., music by Davey Z from 3 to 6 p.m. and Blood Money from 7 to 11 p.m. Monday: Petting farm from 2 to 8 p.m., music by Crash Cadillac from 6 to 11 p.m. Tuesday: Kids' Day games and crafts from 1 to 5 p.m., music by Power Play from 6 to 11 p.m with fireworks at dusk. Wednesday: Kiddie parade from 10 a.m. to noon, grand parade from 1 to 2 p.m., photos with Mickey Mouse and Santa Claus from 2 to 4 p.m., music by 2 for the Road from 2 to 5 p.m. and Stealin' from 6 to 11 p.m with fireworks at dusk.
*Cheektowaga [July 3 and 4]
Independence Day Celebration, Cheektowaga Town Park 2600 Harlem Road , Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday: Beer tent and food available starting at 5 p.m., music By Hit-N-Run from 7 to 11 p.m. Wednesday: Food and beer tent through the day, parade at noon, "I Got It" booth from 1 to 5 p.m., music By Bedrock Boys from 2 to 6 p.m. and Route 66 from 7 to 11 p.m. with fireworks at dusk.
Summer Festival of the Arts, today through Sunday. Concerts: Sister Hazel with Steel Keys & Brass, 7 p.m. today ($30); the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, 8 p.m. Saturday ($35) followed by fireworks and the Guess Who with Stinger, 7 p.m. Sunday ($35). Tickets are available at the gate; children 12 and under are admitted free. Also, an arts and crafts show from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; pet parade, 11 a.m. Saturday and Strawberry Festival, noon to 3 p.m. Sunday.
*Fort Erie, Ont.
Friendship Festival, Mather Arch Park, today through Monday. Four days of free music from 27 bands. Music starts at 5 p.m. today with performances by Old Men with Bad Habits, Katlina & The Gracious, Max Hillier Gatorbait (with guest Ann Rosettani), Pappy John's Band and the Caverners, a Beatles tribute band. Saturday, music starts at noon with Non Fiction, Common Ground, Vibronics, Sad Guru, One Year Later, Aura Jane, Breaching Vista, Street Pharmacy and Under the Influence. Sunday, music starts at 1 p.m. with Greg Skyes Band, Andrew Thompson, Last Chapter (Ignyte), Admitone, Manic Drive Epic, Great Bloomers and New Kid in Town. Monday, music starts at noon with Chelsea Crites, Campx, Weekend Riot Club, Blissed, Newworldson and Hello Kelly. Festival also includes four car shows, a dog show on Saturday, a girls' pageant on Sunday, kids zone and midway booths all four days and over 65 food vendors.
Kenmore Days, continues today and Saturday. Today: Carnival from noon to 4 p.m. at Mang Park (near Mang Avenue), beer tent from 5 to 11 p.m., free safety ID video at Kenmore Community Center (135 Wilber Ave.) from 6 to 9 p.m., music by Joyryde from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. in Mang Park. Saturday: Farmers market from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., live music and entertainment from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and sidewalk sale from 10 to 11 a.m. near the Municipal Building (2919 Delaware Ave.). Plus, rugby tournament from noon to 3 p.m., carnival from noon to 10 p.m., beer tent from 3 to 11 p.m., music by Terry Buchwald from 7:30 to 10 p.m. and fireworks at 10 p.m. in Mang Park.
Independence Day Celebration, Save-A-Lot parking lot (10 Aurora St.), Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday: Rides begin at 4 p.m., the Strangers perform at 7 p.m., event closes at 11 p.m. Wednesday: Events begin at 8 a.m. with flag raising and Interfaith service, followed by a baby contest, beer tent, a 10K run, Lancaster Town Band at noon, a parade at 2 p.m., Hit-N-Run performs at 6 p.m. and fireworks at 10 p.m.
Freedom Daze races at Little Valley Speedway (501 Erie St.), Tuesday and Wednesday. Third race of the season on Tuesday. Gates open at 4 p.m., races start at 7 p.m. Tickets for adults are $14, children under 12 are free. Wednesday features the Large and Small Car Demolition Derby followed by fireworks display. Gates open at 4 p.m., demo starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8, and children under 8 are free. Visit www.littlevalleyspeedway.com for tickets.
Jam in the Valley at Buffalo Hill Village (1629 Route 20A). Two days of live music, next Friday and July 7. Gates open at 3:30 p.m. next Friday with performances by Thomas Rhett at 6 p.m., Jerrod Niemann at 7 p.m., Miranda Lambert with Pistol Annies at 9 p.m. Gates open at 2:30 p.m. July 7 with Randy Houser at 5:30 p.m., Justin Moore at 7 p.m. and Lynyrd Skynyrd at 9 p.m. Fireworks after the concerts. Tickets range from $45 to $105; children 10 and under are admitted free. Visit www.jaminthevalley.com for tickets.
French and Indian War Encampment, Old Fort Niagara, off the Robert Moses Parkway North. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. next Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. July 7 and 9:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. July 8. Events include battle reenactments, living history camps, Native American councils, military music, 18th century games, period church service, weapons demonstrations and food. Tickets are $13, children five and under are admitted free.